Learning to Love Myself

2017 has been an interesting year for me. On one hand I had a nervous breakdown and on the other hand I had an emotional breakthrough. But that is just how my God works.

In January my life long struggle with anxiety hit an all-time high. I still can’t go into all of the details because I’m just not ready. But as I am coming out of this fog I can share with you some of the cool things that have happened during my recovery.

When I realized just how serious and debilitating my condition was I hit the ground running trying to get better. I reached out to friends. I saw a counselor. I went to my doctor. I got on some medicine. I practiced more yoga. And then I did something that I’ve never tried:

I went to a hypnotherapist.

I know. I wasn’t so sure what I thought about that either. My counselor actually recommended this therapist otherwise I’m not sure that I would have sought one out. I had no idea what to expect. Was I going to be “out of control”? I felt very vulnerable letting someone “into my mind”. But I know that the Holy Spirit protects me so I decided to give it a shot.

The whole process was very positive and enjoyable. In fact- it reminded me very much of when I practiced visualization and spoke positive affirmations over myself in preparation for Amera’s (very successful and highly satisfying) home birth.

I won’t give you all the details but one thing that we did was extremely impactful. I have thought about it every day since. The therapist asked me to visualize a time when I was extremely anxious. Immediately I saw myself sitting on a hotel bed in Disney World (the happiest place on earth- I know.) with my children surrounding me.

They had no idea that mommy was crumbling inside. I looked terrified, sad and defeated. My eyes were full of tears and the lines between them were deep. I felt what that Bonnie was feeling: panic. Her vision blurry. Her heart was racing. Her hands were shaking. She wanted to scream. To cry. To run. She wanted to be anywhere but inside her own body.

He asked the present me, to go to that scared me. “Knowing that you make it out of that episode, how would the you now comfort the you then?” Suddenly I was no longer a spectator. I was in the room facing this months younger version of myself and I was overcome with compassion. I walked towards her.

I’m not sure why I was so surprised by what I did next. If it were another family member or friend sitting there my response would have been completely natural and authentic. I sat down on the edge of the bed, hurting for this version of myself. I wanted to hold her. To tell her that she was going to be ok. To make the yuckiness go away.

And then I leaned forward…and kissed myself on the forehead. The warmth of my actual tears streaming down my face temporarily awakened my conscience mind from my trance. The older me was comforting the younger me, and I understood the lesson. I have to love myself. I have to show self-compassion when I feel scared or hurt or flawed. I need to be a friend…to me.

I am drawn to people who are hurting. I want to encourage them and stand beside them through the pain. So why not myself? I have always heard of loving yourself to feel worthy and loved and enough, but I needed this very real visual to remind me that I can make my own situation better or worse depending on my self-talk. My thoughts about who I am are powerful. And so are my words.

So I have decided to practice loving myself. Feeling shame doesn’t do one thing to help me become the best version of me. If I’m struggling, I will be extra kind. If I’m not happy with my body I will say beautiful things to it- holding thankfulness in my heart. If I am fearful or sad I will not run. I will acknowledge my feelings and give myself time and space to make the next best decision. If I feel like a failure, I will pick myself up and try again.  And when I’m overwhelmed- I will laugh.

Instead of my worst critic I will be my biggest supporter, because

I am LOVED. I am WORTHY. I am ENOUGH.

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